Amidst a whirlwind of activities while getting ready to move out, mail will probably be one of the last things on your mind. Oftentimes, the tasks of changing your postal address or setting up a PO box can get overlooked during a home move. However, their importance becomes evident as soon as you stop receiving snail mail, thus possibly missing out on an important piece of mail.
If you’re moving from one home to another directly, then you don’t really need to set up a P.O. box – in that case, you’ll only need to change your address with the USPS and forward your incoming mail to the new home address. However, if it’ll be some time before you move into the new residence or if you’re staying with friends or staying in temporary housing, then you should really think about getting a Post Office box when moving.
Here’s more information about how to sup a P.O. box when you move.
Why should you get a P.O. box in the first place?
As mentioned briefly above, there are several good reasons why you may consider setting up a P.O. box when you move between homes.
- Unavailability of the new home. If you plan to spend a considerable amount of time out of your old home until you find a new apartment or house, or until your new home is ready to receive you and your belongings, then the only way you can keep receiving your regular mail is to set up a P.O. box at a post office that is convenient for you.
- Inaccessibility of the new home. If your new residence is situated in an area that is difficult for mail carriers to reach, then setting up a P.O. box at the nearest post office is a very good idea.
- Frequent traveler. If you happen to travel a lot, then renting a Post Office box may be an excellent solution for you because it will prevent an unnecessary pile-up of mail outside your new home. Keep in mind that mail that’s been uncollected for days or even weeks could alert potential robbers that you’re out of town for a prolonged period of time.
- Home business. If you own a home business, then renting a P.O. box in conjunction with your mailbox outside your house or inside your apartment building can be a good option to separate your business mail from your personal one.
- Better privacy. If you wish to have a better privacy or increased security, renting a P.O. box will give you both because it will keep your home address private and important documents confidential.
By answering the WHY question, we’ve just covered the advantages of getting a P.O. box when you move. Yes, renting a Post Office box has also a couple of disadvantages: 1) there’s a rental fee you’ll need to pay either monthly or annually, and 2) you’ll need to go to the post office to collect your mail as it won’t be delivered to your new home.
Useful info: How to plan a long-distance move
What sizes of P.O. boxes are there?
At most post office locations, Post Office boxes come in 5 different sizes:
- Extra Small: 10-15 letter envelopes or around two rolled magazines;
- Small: 10-15 letter envelopes or roughly 5 rolled magazines;
- Medium: envelopes and magazines can be stacked flat;
- Large: 10-15 letters and about two shoeboxes stacked one on top of the other;
- Extra large: several Flat Rate boxes and parcels, for it’s the largest P.O box option that the United States Postal Service offers.
How much does a P.O. box cost?
Getting a P.O. box for free won’t really work, so you need to be ready for that extra expense. The cost of renting a P.O. box will depend on 3 major factors:
- Size. Refer to the P.O box sizes above. Naturally, the bigger the size, the bigger the rent will be.
- Rental period. You can rent a P.O. box for the following periods: 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. The longer the rental time, the higher the cost, of course.
- Location. The prices for renting a P.O. box can vary depending on the specific town, city or state of the post office. At times, prices may vary for different post offices within one and the same town or city.
To get a rough idea about how much a P.O. box costs, here are some example rental fees. Note that these prices are only referential and the cost of renting a Post Office box in your new place will most likely be different.
- Size: extra small, Rental period: 12 months, Approximate price: $100.
- Size: small, Rental period: 12 months, Approximate price: $150.
- Size: medium, Rental period: 12 months, Approximate price: $250.
- Size: large, Rental period: 12 months, Approximate price: $450.
- Size: extra large, Rental period: 12 months, Approximate price: $650-$700.
For your convenience, you can pay your P.O. box reservation fee and its possible renewal fee online with a credit card.
See also: What to do after moving into a new home
How to get a P.O. box? A step-by-step guide
When moving to a new city, your moving checklist will be filled to the brim with important tasks you’ll have to take care of prior to Moving day. The good news is that getting a P.O. box is a fairly easy process where you can the option to either complete the P.O. reservation task either online or in person at a USPS post office.
How to reserve a P.O. box ONLINE
Here are the steps on how to rent a P.O. box online:
- Click here to visit the official website of USPS (PO Boxes Online).
- Find an available P.O. box in the new town or city you’re moving to.
- Select the length of time for which you want to rent (reserve) your P.O. box. As explained above, the available rental periods are 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.
- Create a USPS account (if you don’t already have one) and begin the P.O. application process.
- Pay using a credit card.
- Print out the completed form and the receipt you received on your e-mail address. The post office will verify the information and application you’ve submitted within 3 days.
- Visit the post office in person, carrying the completed form, the receipt of your payment and 2 forms of ID to receive the keys or the lock combination for your new P.O. box.
How to get a P.O. box IN PERSON
Keep in mind that the process of reserving a P.O. box online is easy and convenient, but you’ll still need to visit in person the post office in the destination town or city to start using the Post Office box. Which also means that may choose to rent your P.O. box in person after you move.
To do that,
- Print out the USPS Form 1093 from here, then complete it by hand.
- Take the completed form to the post office where you wish to rent a P.O. box. Remember to have two forms of ID with you, then make the payment.
- You will be given your new P.O. box address once the USPS verifies your address and receives your payment.
Note: According to the USPS, two forms of ID mean one photo ID (a current driver’s license; a military, government, university or corporate ID, a passport; an alien registration card; or a certificate of naturalization) AND one non-photo ID (a current lease; mortgage; a voter registration card; a vehicle registration card; a home insurance policy, or a vehicle insurance policy).
Read also: What to do after moving to a new state